Study Exchange in Hong Kong

Josh Souter – BSc International Hospitality Management

About Me 

My name is Josh Souter and I study International Hospitality Management at Surrey. I underwent a study exchange in Hotel Management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University from Aug-Dec 2022.  

Why Study Abroad? 

Personally, I believe that when opportunities come, like exploring the world at a young age, you should take them. I’ve had many conversations with people who often say, ‘I wish I did something like an exchange or placement when I was at University’. This is often the case because life goes on and responsibilities mount up, so many people remain in one place for work and don’t get the opportunity to travel for larger periods of time.  

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to travel a fair bit but I had never ventured to Asia. So, when the opportunity came up to do an exchange, I was very fond of the idea of being abroad whilst continuing my degree, especially to a new place like Asia. Over the course of my exchange, I learnt so many new things about different cultures, met people from all over the world and studied at one of the top hotel schools in the world.  

What was my host University like? 

Hong Kong Polytechnic University is home to one of the top hotel schools in the world and so I was very fortunate to experience their world class teaching during my exchange. As the hotel school campus is separate to the main campus, it was quite nice having our own exclusive building away from the rest of the University. It was about a 15 min walk to the hotel school. The classes were bigger than Surrey (in student number) but the style of teaching was very similar (group work, individual assignments and exams). The lecturers were all really lovely and were not afraid to help if you needed it. The workload was fairly similar to Surrey however their pass rate was 50% instead of 40% at Surrey so it did mean you had to work that extra bit harder to make sure you pass each of your modules. We did a few hotel visits over the semester to make sure you bring business attire whilst studying at PolyU. The halls of residence were great as we had our own gym, swimming pool, table tennis, games room and canteen. All of the rooms were shared between two and bathrooms were shared between 4. There are so many societies to join so make sure you get involved as it’s a great way of meeting people.  

What was Hong Kong like?  

Hong Kong was such an incredible city to live in! It’s very intense and there is a lot going on, but you can easily escape the busyness of the city if you want to by venturing out to the remote islands off Hong Kong, which were B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. I was so surprised by how much there is to do in the outdoors whilst in Hong Kong. I would often go hiking with friends or go to the beach on the weekends which was a lot of fun. Other friends of mine loved to go kayaking and have parties on junk boats to various islands around Hong Kong which was pretty cool.

One thing I will say is that Hong Kong has incredible food. If you are a lover of good food when you will fit right in here. As eating out is such a norm out in Hong Kong, I only cooked once over my entire exchange so be prepared to socialise with people whilst exploring various cuisines of the world. If you get street food it’s probably around £10 a day for three meals but you can end up spending a lot more if you wanted something more familiar, like Five Guys. Another thing is that how people socialise is very different over in Hong Kong. I found myself having to make a lot of effort to interact with local students but once they open up, they are lovely and enjoy interacting with westerners as they often find us very outgoing and fun people to be around. Lots of my friends managed to travel to places like the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali and Japan during and after the exchange so if you wanted to explore more of Asia you totally could do so. I used a Monzo card whilst I was out here and it seemed to work pretty well but otherwise people just created local bank accounts and used those.  

5 Top Tips 

  1. Don’t hold back from applying where you would love to go. It’s a once in a life time experience! 
  1. Explore the local culture. Food, Language, People, Festivals etc. 
  1. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. You may meet your new best friend 
  1. Travel. If you’ve travelled across the world you must explore the surrounding country/countries 
  1. Don’t forget about your studies. It’s a nightmare if you have to retake exams when you are back in the U.K.